By Riyaz Bhat
SRINAGAR: At 55, Shakoor Ahmad has begun to forget things but the horrible memories of the Gaw Kadal massacre are not erasing from the chambers of his mind. Twenty seven years ago he witnessed the gory scenes when the paramilitaries opened indiscriminate fire on protesters and killed 51 civilians in cold blood. He doesn’t forget the day was January 21 and vividly recalls that Jagmohan had taken over the reins only a day earlier.
Shakoor, a resident of Ikhrajpora near Jawahir Nagar gets overwhelmed by emotions when he recalls how the bullets were hitting the unarmed protesters and they were felling down one by one, drenched in blood and crying in pain.
“I get flashbacks often. I see people felling down and dying,” he says. “I could not help anyone of them. I have no words to explain the horror that we witnessed,” he said.
Jagmohan, he said, was dispatched by New Delhi to curb pro-freedom protests and ensure return of peace in Kashmir.
He said Jagmohan administration imposed curfew in most parts of Srinagar. The troopers barged into many houses in Gaw Kadal to conduct massive arrests. Several women were molested. This led to protests, which were quelled by brute force, he recalled.
“I saw at least twenty persons dying in front of my eyes,” he said.
For Halima Begum, the Gaw Kadal massacre began the miseries in her life. “My husband was taking tea on first floor of our house. Suddenly there were some gunshots and he began running towards a nearby chinar tree,” she recalls. “While running he shouted that an injured person required his help,” she said.
Halima’s husband Ali Muhammad had seen a 60-year-old man felling down after being hit by a bullet. “AS soon as he reached near the old man and began to lift him towards safety, the paramilitary forces spotted him. He was fired upon in his head and died instantly,” Begum said.
“The wounds given to us by the brute forces will never be healed up. Nearly three decades have passed but it seems to us that the massacre occurred only yesterday,” she said.
“I can’t forget the day when the troopers orphaned me. I get flashbacks and see the paramilitary men targeting my father with an AK-47 rifle,” Halima’s son Mohmmad Rouf said.